When the temperatures take a dip, one of the things that get hotter in the cold weather is Beijing’s scrumptious winter snacks, which tastes better when it is colder. We seldom get to eat these during other seasons.
The following are five popular winter snacks you might have already noticed in your neighborhood streets, vegetable markets or in the supermarkets. Next time you come across these snacks, make sure you sample them before spring comes.
Crystalline sugar-coated fruits on a skewer, tanghulu are a popular snack for Beijing locals, especially for children. The fruit traditionally used is the sweet and sour Chinese hawthorn, but recently vendors use strawberries, cherry tomatoes, kiwifruit, bananas and grapes to add variety and colors on the sticks. The snack can be found with vendors on bikes, supermarkets, and the Wangfujing Snack Street. Tanghulu plays an important role in Beijing’s temple fairs, where both adults and children love to stroll among the crowd while enjoying tanghulu.
Sugar fried chestnuts (糖炒栗子)
The prevalence of sugar fried chestnuts actually starts in autumn as soon as chestnuts are harvested, and many cauldrons will be set up on the streets and markets to make the delicacy. Fried with coarse sand and maltose syrup, good fired chestnuts should be polished and brown in color, easy to peel, crispy on the outside and sweet and soft on the inside. You can easily find fried chestnuts in your neighborhood, or join the line for some time-honored shops that have been serving the traditional snacks for decades.
Roasted Sweet Potato (烤红薯)
You have probably seen them in those barrel-shaped mobile ovens on the vendors’ tricycles. Roasted and sold on the streets, the sweet and soft hot sweet potato is such a comfort snack in winter, and it is one of the street snacks you don’t have to worry about the hygiene. You can eat the yummy snack plain, or you take home and take credit in making some of the most awesome recipes as suggested by themiddlekingdom.org.
The honey dough twist is called tangerduo, sugar ear, because it is shaped like a man’s ear. Although not as popular as tanghulu and fried chestnuts, the famous traditional snack can be super satisfying if you do not mind the over-sugared texture. Try your luck to find them in the local supermarkets as sugar ear is not a street snack.
Only produced in winter. To make the snack, fresh persimmons will be peeled and dehydrated whole in the cold and dry air for weeks, until the natural sugar forms a snowy frost on the surface. Tender and moist, the good thing about dried persimmons is that it does not lose flavor and aroma. Find them at most local supermarkets.
Photos by legend, chooyutshing and GuySie (Flickr)